Tony Stewart’s SRX Series Could Get a Rival With the Rebirth of IROC
IROC, the International Race of Champions, which pitted elite drivers from various motorsport disciplines from 1974 to 2006, is being revived with at least one race expected in 2024.
Legendary crew chief/team owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Ray Evernham and investor Rob Kauffman announced the creation of IROC Holdings LLC and the acquisition of the IROC brand Jan. 8. The company revealed at least one IROC race is planned for this year with “historic IROC race cars,” as the group continues “exploring future opportunities.”
If IROC is revived for more than a one-off event, it will effectively serve as a rival to Tony Stewart’s Superstar Racing Experience, or SRX. Stewart spearheaded the creation of the series, which debuted on track in 2021. Like IROC, the series pits drivers from major racing disciplines against one another in a spec series.
SRX racers include numerous former NASCAR Cup champions and stars, including Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Greg Biffle, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth. Other drivers to participate include IndyCar legends like Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. NHRA racers, up-and-coming talent and drivers who have competed across various motorsports series have also made SRX starts. Races are contested on oval short tracks.
Ray Evernham was perhaps inspired to revive IROC by his role in developing SRX. Evernham designed the cars for use in the series. Evernham tweeted in 2022 he “no longer (has) and active role” with the series.
SRX could understandably be perceived as a modern-day revival of IROC. The formula, after all, is similar. IROC races have featured some of the most iconic names in motorsports. Champions include Mark Donohue, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Dale Earnhardt, Kurt Busch, Al Unser and Bobby Allison all competing in spec cars.
IROC debuted in 1974 with four races with all competitors, including Richard Petty, Donahue and Emerson Fittipaldi, driving a Porsche Carrera RSR. The next season marked the debut of the Chevrolet Camaro as the spec model. It was followed by the Dodge Daytona, Dodge Avenger, and the Pontiac Trans Am from 1996 until the series was disbanded.
The first season was contested solely on road courses, and initially all IROC seasons included at least one road race. In 1992, the series switched to exclusively competing on oval courses and was once a mainstay on the Daytona Speedweeks schedule ahead of the Daytona 500.
As of now, the new IROC brand owners haven’t announced additional specifics regarding the series’ return, save for the new company will be initially based in Mooresville, North Carolina and that it “plans to bring the historic brand back to life.”